Elton Hayes Interview

John Nelson has recently sent me a link to a fascinating interview with Elton Hayes. I have posted about this video clip before, but its worth mentioning again.

Elton Hayes in 1984

Back in 2012, Neil also made me aware of this, but unfortunately, due to the strict copyright laws by the owners, East Anglian Film Archive, I can not post the interview on here. But, for fans and admirers of the talented Elton Hayes, this is a must-see. Not only does he describe his work for Walt Disney on Treasure Island and Robin Hood, but Elton also sings a verse from the song ‘Wanderin' Star’, from the movie Paint Your Wagon.

Here is the link:  Elton Hayes Interview

The video clip is referenced as ‘Spectrun-Out of Town-Squeezbox: Elton Hayes’ and was filmed at Elton's farm in Suffolk in 1984.

Elton Hayes as Allan-a-Dale

In my opinion, Elton Hayes’s portrayal of Alan-a-Dale in Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood (1952), has never been surpassed. He was ‘made for the part’ and as the wandering minstrel, he carried the story uniquely from scene to scene, imitating the link the legend has with the balladeers that first spread the legend in medieval England.

There are over 34 pages on this blog, dedicated to Elton Hayes.  Much of the information has come to us via Geoff Waite, who has not only researched the life of Elton, but recently written a short bio in a CD compilation of his work. This is now available on the Retrospective label, from Amazon UK

The 64 recordings display a unique mix of various traditional English ballads performed by Elton. But, unfortunately his songs from Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952) are not featured. 

Whistle My Love by Elton Hayes

But a CD  produced on the Windyridge label as part of their ‘Variety’  series (WINDYVAR90) does include ‘ Whistle My Love ' and ‘ Riddle Dee Diddle Dee Day,’ and is available here.

Queen Eleanor Buys Some Chips

Martita Hunt buys some chips.

When was the last time you saw a monarch buy some chips? Or even a film star in a local chippy?

The image above was sent to me by Neil Vessey. Neil has been a regular contributor to this site down the years and found this 'Picture Post' article showing the wonderful actress Martita Hunt (1899-1969), in a chip shop. 

The magazine states that the photograph was taken during a break in the filming of Treasure Hunt. This movie was released the same year as her appearance in Walt Disney's live-action movie, The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).

Martita Hunt is of course, remembered for her portrayal of Miss Haversham in David Lean’s excellent Great Expectations (1946). But, her powerful screen presence was suited perfectly for her role as Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine in Robin Hood. 

Martita Hunt as Queen Eleanor

Maid Marian and her Father

Clement McCalin and Joan Rice

My last two posts have featured the actors Clement McCallin (1913-1977) and Joan Rice (1930-1997), who both appeared in Disney’s live-action film, The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). Here is a lovely movie still of both of them together. 

Clement McCallin only had a small role as the Earl of Huntingdon, Maid Marian’s father, which is unfortunate, because I believe more could have been added to his story. But, Joan’s Maid Marian played an integral part in the whole film. As Sherron Lux says in her paper, And ‘The Reel’ Maid Marian, it is misleading to call the film ‘The Story of Robin Hood’, as it should be ‘Marian’s Story’ .

In Disney’s first film version The Story of Robin Hood, Joan’s portrayal of Maid Marian stands in sharp contrast to earlier, and even many later versions of the legend. She is bright and courageous. Which was groundbreaking for the time. Maid Marian defies the Queen, disguises herself as a page and escapes to the outlaw camp. She then initiates her own campaign to raise money for the kings ransom. For her trouble she gets locked up in a damp dungeon, but ultimately proves Robin’s loyalty to the king. It’s a pity Disney didn’t consider a sequel! 
What do you think?

Hal Osmond & Clement McCallin

We have seen several collections of memorabilia from Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, owned by fans of the movie. The images below, have been kindly sent in by regular contributor John Nelson. They show the signatures of two stars of Disney’s wonderful live-action movie.

The Signature of Hal Osmond

Above is the signature of Hal Osmond (1903-1959) in 1946. Hal played the role of mischievous Midge the Miller for Disney in Robin Hood.

Hal as Midge the Miller

Below are a few more photographs from John's collection. These  show Clement McCallin (1913-1977) in a production of The Maid of the Mountains. This was performed at the Globe Theatre, Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, from November 12th to 17th 1951. 

The filming of Disney’s Robin Hood had by this time finished at Denham Studios in Buckinghamshire. Clement McCallin had starred as Maid Marian’s father, the Earl of Huntingdon. Now, Clement was appearing on stage as Baldasarre in The Maid of the Mountains.

Clement as Baldasarre

Clement as the Earl of Huntingdon 

To learn more about these two wonderful actors, just click on the labels below or in the task bar.

Joan Rice (1930-1997)

Joan Rice as Maid Marian

Joan Rice sadly passed away on New Years Day in 1997, she was 66. This blog site is dedicated to her memory and has over 95 pages about her life and career. 

It is always nice to hear from readers who knew Joan. So I thought I would share a few of their memories. Fred got in touch in December 2019 and said:

The first and only time I saw Joan's acting was in ‘Blind Bait’. I loved her innocence, despite she played a very charming bigamist. May God grant her peace.

Geoffrey Cunning recalled Joan finding him a flat:

I remember her well from her property letting agency in Maidenhead. I was do delighted to meet her, having not seen her since the Maid Marian days. Still beautiful with a husky voice (smoking!) She was delightful to talk to - and found me a flat in Bray.

Joan Rice as Maid Marian

It was during the days of C.B. Radio that John Poynter remembers Joan:

My memories of Joan, are from her use of a C.B. Radio. ‘Rice Pudding’ she called herself. I spent a few afternoons in her flat just talking. She was a great and wonderful lady, I still think of her often. Especially when I pass her flat in Maidenhead. Rest In Peace Joan.

Mike Halston left a message on Joan’s obituary page:

Just watched ‘Police Dog’ on Talking Pictures TV. Joan was certainly a bit of a stunner with not a little acting ability. Very similar in her appearance to her contemporary, Hazel Court. Fondly remembered now.

Thank you to everyone one who has got in touch with their memories of Joan Rice. If you have any memories of ‘our Maid Marian,’ please get in touch.

Merrie Christmas

I would like to send out a Merry Christmas - or should that be Merrie Christmas to all my readers! Many thanks to Neil, Geoff, John, Laurence, Mike, Peter and all those who have so kindly contributed to this blog down the years and continued to find interesting topics on Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).

I have now reached 825 posts on this site, but I could not have achieved it without your continued support. So a big thank you to everyone of you!

" I'll give you a health! To you and all your families. God grant you all health and a long life! And bring confusion on all your enemies. Be they peasant or prince!” [Loosely based on Robin’s toast to King Richard].

The Dream of Peter Finch

Peter Finch as the Sheriff of Nottingham

This is a section from the biography Finch Bloody Finch, written in 1980 by Elaine Dundy, about the film star Peter Finch (1916-1977). Peter played the part of the Sheriff of Nottingham for Walt Disney in The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952), a role by him that is often overlooked by film critics. But in my opinion, was a stand-out performance, like many actors in this Technicolor masterpiece. I am sure my readers will find this interesting.

Dundy begins:

“ Immediately after Captain Carvel closed, Peter worked forty-eight hours round the clock, learning a huge role in order to take over the lead from Dirk Bogarde in a mediocre Anouilh play, Point of Departure, in the middle of its run. Next he found himself bewigged and bearded as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Walt Disney’s film Robin Hood. For research, he went to Nottingham, studied ninth-century records [?] and roamed around its Sherwood Forest for days. Peter made such an impact on the early rushes that he ended up with a part three times its original size.
The filming of Robin Hood was noteworthy for Peter mainly because during this time he suffered a major artistic disappointment. “ Most actors want to play parts they are not suited for,” says Peter’s friend Alan White, “ but the parts that Peter burned to play, Till Eulenspiegel, Peer Gynt, Robert Louis Stevenson and Don Quixote - were all parts he would have been magnificent in. They were all, like him, seekers after the romantic quest.” To play Don Quixote had always been Peter’s most cherished artistic dream. He had often talked about it to John Kay during the Mercury days in Australia and to Olivier in England. Now he talked to the producers of Robin Hood. They listened to Peter with interest and, watching Peter’s work, they daily became more enthusiastic about the project. Beautiful colour stills were taken of Peter as Don Quicote in full costume and make-up with James Hayer as Sancho Panza. If it is possible for one to judge how good an actor is going to be merely by stills (and it is surprising how often it is), Peter would have been “brilliant” as Don Quixote.

The Sheriff (Peter Finch) displays the King’s ransom money

When the producers saw the stills they became more enthusiastic. Peter himself was now in a state of high excitement as his dream seemed to be taking the shape of reality. All the project needed to get underway was the O.K. of the great Walt Disney who was shortly arriving in England to view Robin Hood.

Peter Finch as the Sheriff

At last the all-powerful Disney arrived in London. He was given a special private showing of the rough-cut Robin Hood. And ... and ... he was observed to be drumming his fingers throughout! It was the Emperor’s thumbs down.

Don Quixote was abruptly cancelled. It’s death, still born, marked Peter’s first realisation that Australia did not have a monopoly on artistic frustration.

After chasing Robin Hood around Sherwood Forest for four months Peter, suffering from exhaustion and disillusionment  was fervidly planning on a long rest to catch his breath. Sir Laurence, however, had different plans for him which was equally fervid. He had managed to capture that elusive magic balloon Orson Welles and tether him down to appearing as Othello at the St James Theatre for a limited engagement for nine weeks. Peter Finch, Olivier had impressed upon Welles, would be his perfect Iago”.

(Finch Bloody Finch, A Life of Peter Finch by Elaine Dundy, published by Holt McDougal in 1980)

After Robin Hood ?

I recently discovered these two loose pages in what I believe was the Film Review. Unfortunately I do not have a date for the article, but it must have been around 1955, when Richard Todd (1919-2009) appeared as Guy Gibson in The Dam Busters. 

After Robin Hood by Richard Todd

“ In some ways I shall always regard my decision to appear for Walt Disney in Robin Hood as one of the most important in my life. At the time I was still living under the shadow of that dour and twisted Scot, Lackie of The Hasy Heart, and I wanted an escape.

Disney’s Robin Hood looked like being just what I was after as soon as it was first mooted while I was in Hollywood; but I was just a little anxious. I felt that I had to be doubly careful.

By this time you’ll have made up your minds about the picture and my performance. But I think you’ll agree that is different, that it has at last laid the ghost of Lackie. And now what?

Well, Ive taken a breather by playing opposite Merle Oberon in Twenty-four Hours of a Woman’s Life (1952), a rather unusual love story. And I’m most happy with my part of Guy Gibson in Dam Busters.

Can I go on finding such varied and interesting parts? I don’t know, but I can try”.
(Richard Todd)

This is a poignant piece. By the end of the 1950’s the the studio system was breaking up, his contract was not renewed, and ‘wheeler-dealing over individual films became the norm. While flirting with television, for which he did Carrington VC in 1960, he became a stage actor-manager by forming Triumph theatre productions and touring middlebrow plays’. 

The Guardian Obituary continues... “ He [Richard Todd] became a dairy farmer from 1957, leading to his appointment as president of the Henley and District Agricultural Association in Buckinghamshire. A very British perfectionist, he confessed to a dream that, despite the warnings of his friends and everyone else he talked to, there would always be a market for the best...His success as a businessman/farmer was a double-edged sword as his acting career receded. However, Todd retained his instinct for business. In the 1970s, actors – especially well-spoken and well-dressed middle-class actors who had slipped out of fashion – were having a lean time. An organisation was set up to use such players by touring them in the US and other parts of the world. Todd – the star of 50 films over 20 years – was one of the relatively few former high-powered stars who turned out to support the idea.

Physically small but sturdy, Todd was more of a realist than many actors. He said bluntly that when the film parts dried up and he had returned to the stage, he had been "absolutely dreadful" in a production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband (1965) and had had to relearn the stage technique he had acquired at the beginning of his career. At that time, too, he sold his farm to support himself” .


This site contains over 70 pages featuring Richard Todd including various articles about his life and career. Please click on the links.

Richard Todd as Robin Hood

He will always be my favourite Robin Hood.

Elton Hayes attends the Cardiff Empire Provincial Premiere

Elton Hayes at the Cardiff Empire promoting Robin Hood

Down the years I have been able to publish a great deal about the making of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men. Some of this information has come from my regular readers, including Geoff Waite. Geoff is a well respected authority on the life and recording career of Elton Hayes (1915-2001), who played the part of the minstrel ‘Alan-A-Dale’ in this Technicolor classic. 

Elton Hayes as Alan-A-Dale with James Hayer as Friar Tuck

Geoff contacted me recently regarding the ‘provincial premieres’ of Disney’s Robin Hood, something which, up until a few years ago, I did not realise had happened. 

Elton entertaining patients at the Cardiff Royal General Infirmary in 1952

Geoff says:

“ Going back to the question of the provincial premiere, or premiere’s, of Disney’s  The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, we know that members of the cast such as Joan Rice, James Hayter and Elton Hayes made personal appearances when the film opened at selected theatres around the country.  I am aware that Elton Hayes attended openings at the Manchester Odeon, the Cardiff Empire, and the Gaumont theatres in Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester before he sailed for America on 6 May 1952 to promote the film for Disney.

Here are some photos from my private collection relating to the opening at the Cardiff Empire. As you will see, Elton was accompanied by two Maid Marian’s and one of the ‘Merrie Men’!!  The first has Elton demonstrating his prowess as a bowman (without an arrow). And earlier in the day, we find him serenading the two Maid Marian’s at Cardiff Castle. I think this is a splendid picture. He also entertained patients at the Cardiff Royal General Infirmary, and I will send these on to you.

Unfortunately, I do not know the Cardiff date, but it must have been around the time of the Manchester and Liverpool openings in April 1952. I hope you like the photos”.
(Geoff Waite)

Elton signs for a fan at the Cardiff Royal General Infirmary in 1952

I am sure my readers will agree that these are amazing images. Thank you Geoff for sharing them with us.

Elton with two Maid Marians at Cardiff Castle in 1952

This blog has 34 pages on the life of Elton Hayes (1915-2001). Included are details of his recording career, performances and a complete discography. Just click here to read a great deal more.